Undervalued Spotlight #335

Strange tales #111, Marvel Comics, August 1963

I was set up at a comic con this past weekend and had the pleasure of kicking back one evening with a few friends and a few too many drinks.

One of the cool discussions we got into was the value of comics with second appearances. Were all second appearances undervalued? Prices of 1st appearances are through the roof, prices of random iconic covers are through the roof, prices of 1st issues (not necessarily 1st appearances) are generally through the roof.

Why are second appearances mere fractions of some of these prices? Is the second appearance of a character something that will one day be seen as way more significant than it is today? Will the astronomic prices of 1st appearances eventually force second appearance prices way higher?

If anybody knows the importance of second appearances it’s me! My stunning Spotlight #79 broached the subject here at CBD and I’m not sure but I think it’s my most read Spotlight ever, what I am sure of is that it was the one I got beat up the most on.

So today I decided to take a collecting strain, early Marvel keys, and run a second appearance exercise. As is, which of these is the most undervalued? If all of these will eventually appreciate which has the most to gain? In order to pick I had to play them off against each other. With early Marvels I stuck with the 9 stalwart in continuity characters Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Ant-Man, Iron Man, Thor, X-Men, Doc Strange and Daredevil.

I took a peak at how their second appearance issues are doing and was able to decide that this week’s Undervalued Spotlight should shine on Strange Tales #111.

Strange Tales #111 features the second appearance of Doctor Strange and as an added bonus features the 1st appearance of Baron Mordo. Baron Mordo was one of the stronger and more enjoyable characters in the recent Doctor Strange movie. The movie actually served as a Baron Mordo origin as well, he’s a strong character and we’ll be seeing more of him in the cinemas for sure.

Of my 9 characters to compare I was able to toss 3 out right away because they were hard to compare against, Spider-Man #1 is seen as a key in its own right, Tales to Astonish #35 is inconclusive because some see #36 as the second appearance if you count the Ant-Man costume as the 1st appearance and not Hank Pym and the X-Men are not the same team today so the book is tough to judge.

Right away I’ll cede that FF #2 and Hulk #2 are the heavyweights and enjoy collecting community respect. I’ve always been uncomfortable with Thor, seeing him more as a direct adaptation of a character from ancient mythology in the public domain.

This left me with Tales of Suspense #40 and Daredevil #2 as what I saw as the closest comparables

There are 67 CGC graded copies of Tales of Suspense #40 at 8.0 or better compared to the abundant 218 CGC copies of Daredevil #2 at 8.0 or better. My Strange Tales #111 has 52 showing up on the CGC census at a grade of 8.0 or better.

The Overstreet Price Guide has Strange Tales #111 as the cheapest of all 2nd issues on my list at $1,500 in the 9.2 grade. The later published and more plentiful Daredevil #2 has a Guide value of $1,950 in comparison.

Compared to the August 1963 Strange Tales #111’s publish date contemporaries it really lags. Tales of Suspense #40 was April 1963 and has a $5,800 9.2 Guide value while November 1963’s X-Men #2 (with not even a current team) has a 9.2 Guide value of $4,500.

In the end it comes down to the strength of the character and I’m convinced Doctor Strange belongs up there with the rest. Graded copies of Doctor Strange’s second issue are at this moment among the scarcest of all the second issues but for some reason the book lags in the marketplace.

As I’ve said before, issue #s will matter less and less in the future but fundamental facts like second appearances should end up mattering more and more.

On the market the book has fallen considerably since last summer but in my experience books like this usually lag after the movie hits. The thing to remember is that the movie was a hit, the character has been accepted into mainstream pop culture. If you can’t afford a Strange Tales #110 why not consider a nice tight copy of Strange Tales #111.

The 46th Overstreet price break for this book is $432/$966/$1500 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment.

  • 2nd Appearance of Doctor Strange
  • 1st Appearance of Baron Mordo
  • 2nd appearances are undervalued in general

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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7 years ago

wish i was there for the drinking party. lol

relative valuation. that’s always the way i look at my comics. if A cost $$$, what’s that look like compared to B….

in this case, you can get a 9.2 #111 for about the same as a 4.5 #110…. not bad.

Steve V.
Steve V.
7 years ago

Strange Tales #111 from Auguat 1963 is certainly an issue which is no longer on anyones radar. Whether it should be is a matter for debate. The script attributed to H.Huntley was appartantly a psudo-name for writer Jerry Seigel. Jerry Seigel was a freelancer and this yarn is as goofy as super-pets’ stories. Only Dick Ayers could make the asbestos man a gladiator with asbestos suit, shield and net. The gas mask Asbestos man wears hopefully prevents asbestosos disease from the now known effects of inhaling asbestos fiber.
But enough of the cover feature Human Torch story. It is the 5 page backup story that “time remembers”. I am not referring to the 5 pager by Larry Lieber and Matt fox of the monkey who saved the world. Rather chapter 2 by Steve Ditko of Dr Strange – master of black magic. Baron Mordo threatens the Ancient One in Tibet but Dr.Strange tricks Mordo into returning to defend his own European based physical body. A very basic story, no doubt written by Ditko, while Spider-man was vacuuming up the sandman with a hoover.
Ok…so speaking of the sandman….how about the sandmans 2nd appearance in Strange Tales #115. That my vote for most under appreciated story. Strange Tales #115 contains the Origin of Dr.Strange in a 8 page extra length classic. It is the definitive Origin. Issue #110 may be the first published appearance but issue #115 is the best and real origin. I draw comparison to Tales to Astonish 27 and 35. Yes I know Antman had no costume in 27.
So Issue #110 is the key, issue #115 the supporting pillar, and issue #111 is a distant third. I would even argue that the first appearance of Clea, first Dormammu and first whole cover appearance of doctor strange are much more significant than #111. Can we know for sure?? Only by shining the mysical light of a sorcerers magic amulet on each issue can we know for sure.!
Stevie V.

7 years ago

I agree with the general premise that second appearances (other than Spidey) sit at too low a percentage of first appearances, but then again I guess I’m in the minority group that thinks “early appearances” in general are cool to have for one’s favorite mega-star characters. Unlike Walt, I do like JIM 84 (tough in grade) and I don’t fear the non-Marvel historical roots of Thor, as Marvel has successfully appropriated him. I like TOS #40 even more, as its at least as tough in grade, Shellhead IS a Marvel creation, and he’s elevated in status to the tier just below Spidey, Wolverine, Cap.
I think FF2 (first cosmic Marvel; true, Walt) and Hulk 2 are also important on their own, but they are already a little pricier and may not have as much upside on a percentage basis.
A Marvel book sparked this topic as Walt’s undervalued pick, but I would be remiss to not share my love for Adventure #267 as well. The Legion these days is as forgotten as the FF, but both will be back one day. I wouldn’t sleep on quality early appearances of either team.
That’s 2 cents from me, but what do I know? I just bought Katy Keene’s first appearance. (Cheapest way I know to get an authentic-feeling “Archie #1.”)